Monday, May 12, 2014

Willie's Tug Cruises Again! -- 5/7/2014

Today we enjoy our first long cruise after returning for the Summer and go to Fishermen's Terminal in Seattle, the commercial fishermen's marina.  Winds are low, seas are flat calm and we leave at 7:30A to 'go inside' and pass through the shallow Swinomish Slough at high tide.  The tide chart suggests traversing no later than 8A.

A little ways after we leave Cap Sante Marina, we see a train on land and realize we have never seen one from here before.  Hmmm.  Just as we approach the trestle, Herb's eagle eye notices that it looks different -- it is closed to boat traffic and open for the train that we saw!!!

We never had to know what the clearance is, so not sure we could go under, but see it is now closing, closing, closed to trains and open to boaters.  We pass through and are now in the slough at 21 ft. depth.  I love to visit this area to see the eagles and logging industry activities.  I am amused at the very small boat pulling a string of logs, looking much like a toy.

Now getting into the more shallow stretch at 13 ft., we line up the Range Markers to stay in the center of the deepest part of the channel.  The lowest we see is 7 ft. near the south entrance.  Thirteen again as we turn to port and south to Seattle.  Quickly we see 47 ft. but current on the nose.

All good!

Bruce of MoonShadow calls to tell us he and Vicki saw whales in Saratoga Passage, west of Camano Island, feeding near the shore.  So we watch carefully along the way.

There is a LOT of traffic on the water today, many, many fishing boats tending their shrimp pots and it is quite a skill to thread our way through the buoys identifying each pot, as well as the boats circling and running directly toward us.  We later learn that today is a One Day Shrimping Opportunity after the open season.  Everybody and their brother is taking advantage of it.  We hope they do well.

No whales yet, Bruce.

The fishing crowd thins out and we see the Hercules tug and tow on our starboard traveling south also.    Some of the fishing boats have winches to bring up the pots, while others have long poles with a hook.

We cruise at 7 knots through rippled seas, then increase to around 14 to avoid getting too close to Hercules at the south end of Camano Island.    The first ferry to cross us today is Kittitas coming from Mukiltea and going to Everett; she meets the ferry Cathlamet sailing the opposite route.  Back to 7 knots.

It gets exciting with all this traffic and Herb points out a Coast Guard Cutter.  It is pretty far away, but I take a photo, hoping to zoom for a better view.  I can't tell which is the bow and which is the stern.

I think back on the mass of fishing boats and wonder how they know where to put the pots.  Herb says, "They look at the Garmin chart plotter, see Herb's little pink line that shows his route, and they put them all along that line!"  

It takes me a minute to get it....

Think safety -- we see a boat coming toward us so fast it hardly looks to be in the water, then past us, spins around lifting the bow high, and we note that none of the three people in the cockpit wear life jackets.  Not wise.  Apparently looking for their shrimp pot buoys.

We ride on swells now and pick up speed to 19 knots to avoid the Walla Walla and Spokane ferries departing Kingston and Edmonds.

Bruce calls again to say he sees our AIS on Marine Traffic and that we increased our speed suddenly.  Herb explains about getting out of the way of the big vessels.

We can't believe kayaks paddling out to check their shrimp pots would stop in front of us!  They must be saying, "Oh, it's a Ranger Tug -- she will go around us."  We go astern in disbelief.

We arrive at the Hiram M. Chittenden locks and are directed into the small one.  Second in line, we get the port wall.  I take the stern line and Herb takes the bow.  The fishing/pleasure sailboat in front of us has a hard time tying up, then all goes smoothly.  Only three vessels in the locks.

As we come out of the locks, we watch the sailing vessel scoot past us in a hurry.

Only a short distance to go now, we arrive at Fishermen's Terminal at 4P after a fun day on the water.  We are told to take a space on transient Dock 5 if available, or a slip on Dock 6.   Herb does a port docking on 5 with inches to spare.  We plan to jokingly tell our friend Ray, the Harbormaster, that we put this 35 overall in a 30 foot space.  He likes to conserve.

To celebrate our landing,  we dine at Chinook's at Salmon Bay restaurant at the marina. 

Find Willie's Tug....

Willie of Willie's Tug,
   and of Walldog, Willie and Jake 
   Wednesday, May 7, 2014

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